Monday, September 29, 2008

Dexter in the Dark

From singles 2

This is the third novel in the Dexter series - the series that inspired or spawned the Showtime series "Dexter". Dexter is a Miami forensic investigator who in his "off" time is also a serial killer. Dexter has been trained by his foster father, Harry, to be exceptionally tidy so as not to get caught and to select only other evil serial killers as victims. In this novel Lindsay introduces a supernatural element. The "Dark Passenger" inside Dexter who helps inform him of the evil in others and drives his blood lust is identified as something "other" to Dexter when, after encountering 2 cooked and decapitated female bodies with ceramic bulls' heads on their necks, it takes flight. Dexter is left to discover all he is left with is his humanity and its uncomfortable emotions. All this takes place while Dexter is preparing to marry his girlfriend, Rita, and is being harangued by Rita's serial-killer-children-in-the making - Astor and Cody - to whom Dexter has promised to "show things".

There. That covers most of the action. Action is not exactly flying through this novel. Most of the story is taking place internally to Dexter. He's being stalked. He's experiencing fear and anger. He's trying to figure out what to do about the caterer and the kids. Thankfully there isn't much of either his sister or Sgt. Doakes. (WHY there is ANY of Sgt. Doakes is a mystery to me. My only real guesses are 1. he provides a bit of chuckle when he first appears 2. we are being set up for book #4.) And, the kids are not too annoying. It is helpful that they are not overly talkative and I must admit I was amused by their explanation as to how it came to be that they were standing over the neighbor's cat, which was tied up then duct-taped to a table, with hedge clippers..."It was an accident".

Similarly, there is plenty of good Dexter dialogue. Funny stuff, if you've got a dark sense of humor.

She frowned. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing at all," I said. "I just couldn't sleep."

Rita bent her face down toward the floor and shuffled over to the coffeemaker and poured herself a cup. Then she sat across the table from me and took a sip. "Dexter,"she said, "it's perfectly normal to have reservations."

"Of course," I said, with absolutely no idea what she meant, "otherwise you don't get a table."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fall equinox

From singles 2

The summer had burnt itself out; the heat had lifted one day in a breeze off the Gulf, the sky turned a darker blue, the trees a deeper green. Stubborn boys still tried to hold on to baseball games in sand lots, but each morning was cooler now, the sunlight gold and warm at noon, and you could hear high-school marching bands thundering on afternoon practice fields.

It sneaked up on me. I had it marked on my calendar and still it slipped by. Of course, for me it was really the spring equinox. Anyway, I'd likely have continued to not recognize it except I found this really wonderful passage in "Neon Rain" about the advent of autumn. I wonder if anyone anywhere in Australia can relate to the thundering of high school marching bands?

And, there IS a prize to anyone who can pick me out of that line up.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Neon Rain

From singles 2

"...I was forced to learn about some things that went on in my head. I don't like the world the way it is, and I miss the past. It's a foolish way to be."

The Neon Rain. Introduction to Dave Robicheaux and, yes, an explanation of the nickname "Streak". Clete's there, too; troubled, into trouble. Dave and Clete are partners, but not bonded to each other as they are in future novels. I look forward to how/why Dave manages to forgive and embrace Clete. Annie's introduced and I must say she's got spirit. I understand why Dave might be instantly in love. I'm not so sure why she fell for him so quickly, however. If my first date with a man ended with me being tied up and gagged and soon to be killed in my own home, I'm thinking I probably don't show up at his houseboat after he's stood me up and rip off all my clothes.

If my only exposure to the Robicheaux novels was "The Neon Rain", I'd probably not be embarking on a 17 novel path. It lacked the finess of later writing. I missed the depth of relationship between characters- Dave's really a man on his own here. An alcoholic, man-on-his-own is just not that engaging. I have to wonder if any of my lack of enthusiasm is still the lackluster image of Alec Baldwin as Dave. On a more positive note, however, there were moments of great Burke writing.

I tried to envision the man. The face remained an empty, dark oval, like the pitted center of a rotten piece of fruit, but I could see the simian hands. They were strong, ridged with knuckles, thick across the palm, but they were not made for work or for touching a woman's breast or even for tossing a ball back and forth with boys. Instead, they curved readily around certain tools that in themselves were only discardable means to an end: the .22 Magnum revolver, the.410 pistol, the barber's razor, the cork-tipped ice pick, the Uzi. He loosed the souls from their bodies, the grief and terror from their eyes; he unstuck them from their mortal fastenings, sawed the sky loose from the earth's rim, eased them as a lover might into the wheeling of the stars. Sometimes as night he watched his deeds on the ten-o’clock news, ate ice cream out of a carton with a spoon, and felt a strange sexual arousal at the simplicity of it all, the purity, the strobelike glow where their bodies had been outlined with chalk, the remembered smell of death that was also like the smell of the sea, like copulation, like birth.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

HELP! This dog is being held hostage by Honda!

From singles 2

A certain someone is getting very, very hairy waiting for the red dragon to recover. Zelda had an appointment for grooming last week Thursday - I told you that already, didn't I? How I decided to turn around half way there only to find that the car could not make it back home? Eventually we got back and I called the groomer and got the first available (on a day off for me) -- October 18 (or in Australian 18 October.)

So, now it is Friday. And, Kevin has just arrived home from the Honda garage where Honda-check-part-two has just occurred. Kevin has arrived home ON THE TRAIN. The car died within 1 km of the garage.

OK. OK. OK. OK. This isn't a surprise because they didn't actually DO anything today. Or, more accurately, they did nothing to ameliorate the problem that they've identified. The good news is they think they've identified the problem.

And, the cooling system works just fine.

It seems we need a new distributor. And, maybe a timing belt. You know, about $2000 of repair on our $4000 car.

And, as Kevin says, that's also the good news.

The bad news- said distributor lives in Japan and it will take THREE (3!!) WEEKS to get it. Undoubtedly, some one legged octogenarian must hop then swim from Japan to Australia. Obviously, Honda has no facility to motor a part to an airport. Probably all their part delivery trucks need new distributor caps.

Three weeks- which interestingly, though not surprising, comes AFTER the 18th of October.

Brisbane City Romp!

From singles 2

Last weekend Jane, Hubertus, Anna, Andrew, Kevin and I participated in the Brisbane City Romp. Sort of a scavenger-hunt-meets-Amazing-Race counting frenzy. As there was a suggestion that we might want to dress in costume or at least sync, we all wore one of Kevin's XL "I'd rather be playing Cosmic Encounter" t-shirts. We didn't win the best dressed competition. I'm not sure who did- but I was plenty amazed by the effort that some teams put into their look: frogs, Smurfs- yes, with blue painted faces- UGH- sweating in the sun, police officers, the crew from Scooby Doo. There were wigs and hats and fairy wings. My favorite group was the team that dressed like Waldo, ala "Where's Waldo?" (which I've only JUST NOW learned is the title in North America and here it would be "Where's Wally?") It just felt thematically correct.

Each team was given 4 clue sheets - can't quite figure that out since there were 6 of us - on which were clues to 50 locations. You could travel between locations in any order within the time limit of two hours. At each location you'd be given a task to complete which would ultimately provide you with an answer - often a number. Each task/question was also presented with 5 multiple choice options. With luck, your answer matched up with one of the choices and you could then phone in your guess.

In two hours we visited 20 sites and correctly answered 17 questions and satisfactorily performed one belly dance. (That would be a total completion of 18 sites.)

I'm not sure how Kevin and I would have done on our own. No, I take that back. We'd have floundered. We have no mobile phone.

UPDATE: Andrew and Anna let us know that the results were *finally* posted on the Brisbane Romp site. Here's a summation of some potentially interesting data:

Our results can be found at

Gamers Without A Name:

Overall Placing: 692nd

Category (Family & Friends) Placing: 567th

Check Points Visited: 21 (I think they counted the tie-breaker)

Romp Day Points: 284

Fund Raising Points: 0

Total Points: 284

There were 11 teams with the same score, but we were listed on top, so our tie-breaker guess must have been closer than the other teams'.

There were 1576 teams, so we're in the top 44% (at least we're in the top half...).

There were 1322 teams in the Family & Friends category (obviously the popular category!), so we're in the top 43% there (basically the same).


The overall winner was 'Can't stop the romp', who were also in the Family & Friends category.

Team Members: 4

Check Points Visited: 21 (same as us!)

Romp Day Points: 624

Fund Raising Points: 100

Total Points: 724

Clearly, they visited a lot of the triple-scoring sites. Hubertus' strategy was right!


The 'kicking yourself' award goes to:

Team: Lame Capybarras

Overall Placing: 7th

Category (Family & Friends) Placing: 6th

Team Members: 6

Check Points Visited: 22

Romp Day Points: 628

Fund Raising Points: 0

Total Points: 628

If they had contributed $200, they would have been *1st* instead of *7th*!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

This title has been censored

Friday Kevin took the $%**!# car to the radiator shop. They determined that it was unflushable. It was obstructed. We have a new radiator. And, a new thermostat.

And, the car runs no better.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Automotive woes- or why Zelda still needs a haircut

Have I mentioned recently that Michael Jackson's losing his touch? For the last couple of months our car has been napping - or at least attempting to nap - at lights. Once we're no longer accelerating - we're waiting for green or for the second train to pass - it stalls. I found a "work around". Put car in park and put foot on accelerator. That worked OK, but there was nothing to help the occasional missed beats when driving. So, we called in the experts.

Three times.

Twice we got new spark plugs.

Monday the Honda garage told us we were running "hot and rich". And, that somehow isn't a good thing... So, they fixed the "rich" and referred us to another place for a radiator flush and new thermostat.

Kevin, remembering that my day off this week was Thursday and that I'd been waiting three weeks to get Zelda into the groomer scheduled the fourth garage visit for Friday.

But, you already know what happened. The car didn't make it to the groomer. It was obvious that the stop and stop traffic was a very bad idea and so I turned around to drive the easy way: back home and out of traffic. But it was too late. Now, the car doesn't just stall when it is idling. NO. Now it doesn't want to start moving after the light changes and I don't even want to remember what it was like trying to go up hill. Eventually I found a spot on Appleby where I could park. Across from the ABC Daycare which generously allowed me the use of their phone. I don't handle these situations well. Kevin, fortunately, does. He managed to talk me down until he figured out where I was and then arranged for Jane to pick me up.

A super humongous THANK YOU to Kevin and Jane from Ann and her scruffy dog (who may get another Ann cut this weekend.)

Sick Puppy

From singles 2

This is a work of fiction. All names and characters are either invented or used fictitiously. To the best of the author's knowledge, there is no such licensed product as a Double-Jointed Vampire Barbie, nor is there a cinematic portrayal thereof.

However, while most events described in this book are imaginary, the dining habits of the common bovine dung beetle are authentically represented.

I must admit- I did laugh out loud. Despite the harrowing reminders that human development is ruining the natural beauty of Florida, it is a lot of fun. Twilly Spree is an environmentalist with anger management issues- at least that is what the court told him when he was ordered to participate in a workshop after blowing up his uncle's bank. In "Sick Puppy" he follows lobbyist Palmar Stoat home after witnessing his frequent littering and eventually (after the scene with the dung beetles) kidnaps his Labrador.

Carl Hiaasen, beyond being blessed with copious vowels, possess keen insight into the mind of the Labrador retriever. The lab mind is NOT the emotionally sensitive, wise, and loving mind of the golden retriever. The lab mind is completely fixated on FOOD, SMELLS, PLAY.

The dog was having a grand time.

That's the thing about being a Labrador retriever--you were born for fun. Seldom was your loopy, free-wheeling mind cluttered by contemplation, and never at all by somber worry; every day was a romp. What else could there possibly be to life? Eating was a thrill. Pissing was a treat. Shitting was a joy. And licking your own balls? Bliss. And everywhere you went were gullible humans who patted and hugged and fussed over you....Labradors operated by the philosophy that life was too brief for anything but fun and mischief and spontaneous carnality.

And, there's more!

Without a doubt- the funniest rape scene I've ever encountered. I feel horrible saying that. But, Kevin has always insisted that I am the sick one.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Last week was marked by movies that I really wanted to see but ended up not being very satisfied with. And, of course, I drug Kevin along with me. Note- spoilers lurk here.

On Monday Kevin called me at work to suggest we could see "The Visitor" at 6:30 in the city. (It was "cheap night" at the Dendy.) I had seen a preview for this movie in April when I was home and had been eager for it to make its way to Au. When I described the film to Kevin, he wasn't overly impressed, but a check on Rotten Tomatoes suggested that it was critically well received. So, his interest was piqued.

It looked much more upbeat on the trailer... lonely widower rediscovers friendship and emotion and learns to play the drums. Yeah, sure, it is obvious on the trailer that his friend, Terak, is detained by immigration and that he's illegal and ... that probably isn't good. I just never expected we'd give this man his heart back to rip it out, again.

Plus, the tempo was sluggish for a story built around African drumming. Pick up the beat!

"The Visitor" was directed by Thomas McCarthy who did "The Station Agent", another story about a lonely, isolated man and friendship. Kevin and I both really liked "The Station Agent". It was not so depressing and, as Kevin said this morning on the train, "The Station Agent" was shorter...

which we decided was a witless witticism.

Movie 2: "Heaven's Prisoners" - Since I embarked on my Dave Robicheaux adventure, I learned that there are two Robicheaux movies: "In the Electric Mist" with Tommy Lee Jones has yet to be released and "Heaven's Prisoners" with Alec Baldwin. Kevin generously not only found "HP" for me but sat down and watched it last night with me...even though Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a whopping 11% fresh!

With that kind of rating, you don't expect much. It wasn't like going to see "I Want to Believe" where being a fan increased one's appreciation. In particular, I must admit that there was nothing particularly stirring about Dave Robicheaux as embodied by Mr. Baldwin. (The movie did suggest to me just why people keep calling Dave "Streak"...though that was just an inference of mine and I could be wrong. I'm thinking I might learn more from book 1: "Neon Rain".) Dave drunk and despairing is not attractive to watch. (Wonder why it doesn't bother me so much when I'm reading?)

And, where was Clete Purcel??? (I don't think he's included in the next film, either. Maybe his character isn't introduced yet in the series- though they DID talk about "his partner" when he was with the NOPD.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Farty Towels.

Friday evening (Sept.5th- I'm behind) Kevin gave up gaming to accompany me to "The Faulty Towers Experience" at the New Moon Hotel.

After standing about waiting while Basil and Sybil mingled, we were seated by Manuel. "DAY-POOR," Basil told Manuel. "You still pay," Manuel informed us.

The "experience" was held in a moderately sized function room with about 6 tables for 10. We were seated at a table with one other (friendless) couple. We squished together on one side anticipating that more people would be joining us. Alas, the majority of Brisbanite fans of Fawlty Towers have 5 or more other friends and these groups were each seated at separate tables.

While most of the food service was accomplished by wait-staff from the NMH, Manuel carried around garnish, poured water, stacked dishes, and showed off pictures of his sister's ass. Basil, on occasion, chatted with us about our dining experience - but was more often involved with bombastically directing Manuel. Sybil, gracious hostess, would check whether we were OK and roll her eyes about the behavior of Basil and Manuel.

It was an amusing evening. We felt a bit left out of the interaction since the actors directed most of their attention towards the full tables. The food, however, was very, very good and while we probably wouldn't go to another one of their dinner theaters (certainly not "Kath and Kim"...but "Rocky Horror"...?), we will go back for dinner.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Birds, birds, birds

From singles 2

Last weekend I was off. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Wow! What can I say? I had images of getting the garden whipped into shape, spring cleaning the house, doing laundry. You know, having fun.

I have this problem. I blame the babysitter I had when I was in Junior High School, Bobby. Bobby always insisted that we get our work done before we did anything else- like walk over to the IGA to buy Hostess Pies- chocolate or apple. So, until things are "in shape", I have trouble relaxing and doing something just for fun or, god forbid!, doing nothing. And, the long glorious weekend started with two fabulous days of RAIN.

I like a rainy day. But, I don't move very fast. And, it is pretty much impossible to either work in the garden or dry clothes on the line. So, I cleaned up the house, got my hair cut, and then finished reading "Crusader's Cross".

From singles 2

Our neighborhood butcherbirds don't do much on rainy days, either. They congregate on our fence (gate, really) where it passes under the roof of the car port. And, they sing. The acoustics in the damp air with a bit of bouncing off the roof is lovely. I really should have remembered that my camera can record sound. But, instead, I just snuck out and caught a photo of the chorus. (I'll attached a YouTube video for those of you who haven't had the pleasure of listening to butcherbirds.)

This lovely whistling melody is in stark contrast to
a. their eating habits - (from Wikipedia) Butcherbirds are insect eaters for the most part, but will also feed on small lizards and other meat. They get their name from their habit of impaling captured prey on a thorn, tree fork, or crevice. This "larder" is used to support the victim while it is being eaten, to store prey for later consumption, or to attract mates


2. the vocal stylings of the much more visually flamboyant native, the rainbow lorikeet.

From singles 2

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Crusader's Cross

From singles 2

"The world was a good place, the early dawn announced by birdsong and blue shadows on the lawn and fog puffing off the bayou. Why let fear and suspicion invade the heart and lay claim on your life?"

Well, yes, I did say I was going to start at the beginning and follow Dave and Clete from (I presume) New Orleans, to New Iberia, to Montana. But, when I went to the library all I could find was 2005's "Crusader's Cross" - book number 14. And, since I was on a Burke high, I had to borrow it.

In "Crusader's Cross", Dave Robicheaux is ensconced in New Iberia. Katrina has yet to blow the house down and send Dave way up into the Rocky Mountains. That's cool with me. I'm entranced by the people and landscape of the Atchafalaya Basin. (I had the same response to Savannah after reading "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil".) But here, in Acadian Louisiana, I'd fit in by name, at least. No more funny mispronunciations.

Already, with only my second book, I'm realizing that my blog reviews may get to be repetitive. I like what I always like with Burke: his prose, his characters, the intertwining of multiple storylines. I also recognize that reading the series in sequence may result in me becoming tired of the "Murder She Wrote" quality of Dave or Clete being personally embroiled in the mystery. I was saying this to Kevin this morning. Then, I reconsidered. Dave and/or Clete are usually caught up in a tangential predicament created by the conjunction of their occupation and their flawed natures. It still might get old - if one reads 17 novels... but it isn't like being a writer whose friends, family, and friends of family keep dying around her. So, forget I said it.

The bottom line is I really enjoyed the book. I frustrated Kevin with it. He had to wait for me to finish a chapter - repeatedly. Fortunately, for him, the chapters are relatively short. In addition, Burke provided me with at least half a dozen words to bring back to work....though, by in large, they are not of an upbeat nature.

"Every Sunday, Clete picks me up in his Caddie and we fish for speckled trout out on West Cote Blanche Bay. Molly, Snuggs, Tripod, and I live on Bayou Teche and in the early-morning hours often see two pelicans sailing low over the water, their extended wings touched by the sunrise. For me, these are gifts enough."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Weekend at Byron Bay

From singles 2

Last weekend Kevin and I joined 2 other couples in an apartment in Byron Bay. The original idea was that we'd go "camping", but I really, really, really prefer a bed and the campsite that had a cabin for Kevin and I was already fully booked. So, we had to rough it in a lovely 3 bedroom apartment - with kitchen, toilets, and showers! Kevin and crew were a bit disappointed by the dim lighting around the game table - but I think overall we were all pleased that we could walk to the beach through the Arakwal Park in about 15 minutes.

Games played: Citadels, Funny Friends, What's it to ya?, and lots of Times Up! No photos of this- though the "Vogue" round of Times Up! would have yielded some classic pics. The problem... my camera with its overzealous flash!!!!!!!!!!

Beach walks- four. Friday late afternoon with Kevin before anyone else arrived. Saturday morning with the entire group down toward the light house. Cartwheels, dolphins, and sunburns. Sunday morning at dawn with Kevin to faux bird watch. Sunday noon on the opposite beach and climbing up to the light house. This walk was very, very windy. (See group photo.) We did, however, get to see whales!

Finally, a run-in at Ikea to buy 8 copies of something I'm giving out for Christmas. EXCITING and GREEN!!

Mamma Mia!

Tuesday night, while Kevin toiled away at reconstructing his computer, I went to see Mamma Mia! It had been on my list of things to do for quite a while. Interestingly, it was not because I thought the trailer looked so good; like many trailers for what are commonly known as "chick flicks" it told the whole story. For Kevin and me that translates into "why go?" However, everyone I spoke with seemed to really enjoy it, as did the radio, and rotten tomatoes. So, I went.

I must admit I had a good time. Beautiful scenery. Infectious tunes (damn!). The story was still satisfying though without much surprise. I laughed some and was moved particularly by the scene above (Dancing Queen).

It did come off a bit like a high school musical, however, and I was left wondering how it might have benefitted or suffered from choosing singers rather than just actors. Surely, there is a significant population of people who do BOTH well? Amanda Seyfried was excellent. Meryl Streep was good. And, the rest, were better than I am. They'd all get roles in the Versailles Community Theater... but...

This one is from Kevin


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Spring has arrived in Brisbane

From singles 2

Spring is hard for me to recognize here- but I have noticed the jasmine has begun to bloom so the house is filled with its sweet, heady scent. Additionally, several of my sweet peas have braved a flower, a volunteer zinnia has jumped the walk and is blooming, and the mango tree is tipped with spiky looking new growth. The other blossoms on plants and trees and vines I see around here have been blooming so for weeks or months. Beauty still.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Swan Peak

From singles 2

I thought I’d carried the day. But that’s the way you think when your attitudes are facile and you express them self-confidently at the expense of others.

My mom sent another book on tape: James Lee Burke’s Swan Peak. It is one of his Dave Robicheaux novels. This one set in Montana*- a beautiful place but not quite as romantic as Louisiana. Listening to Will Patton read Burke is delightful. In general, I love being read to and Will purrs through Burke’s lyrical prose. Very sexy. Kevin knows. If Will calls, I'll be answering.

Anyway, Swan Peak is especially fun because it is so jam packed with flawed and just plain nasty characters. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I checked Wikipedia for a list of the Robicheaux novels and made a plan to read them all from first to last. The challenge here, of course, is that I live in Australia. Not the library system I was spoiled by in Cleveland, Ohio. Or, Fayetteville, NC, for that matter. But, I have put my request in to borrow the first novel (which may or may not exist). And, have considered making a purchase at Amazon. I saw a good looking cat medicine book in there today. We could use a good cat reference.

*Montana- Kevin and I went to a family reunion in Glacier National Park in 2005. July. A very beautiful place. See?

From singles 2

Monday, September 01, 2008


This one is dedicated to my Grandmother: Veronica. Happy Belated Birthday. I love you.

The goldenrod is yellow,
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.

The gentian's bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.

The sedges haunt their harvest,
In every meadow's nook;
And asters by the brookside
Make asters in the brook.

From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes' sweet odor rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.

By all those lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.

Helen Hunt Jackson